The Brooklyn Nets proved dominant in debuting their tandem of superstars on Tuesday evening. The Warriors, meanwhile, trailed by as many as 38 points in the loss, tied for the third largest deficit in Stephen Curry's career. The most meaningful fantasy takeaway from the noncompetitive contest was the relatively awesome introduction of Golden State's James Wiseman to the NBA.
The No. 2 overall pick played in just three collegiate games and didn't appear in the preseason, making his potential on the professional level even more anticipated and mysterious. Incorrectly deemed a traditional rim-running center by some pundits, Wiseman flashed an array of offensive skills against Brooklyn, including a series of face-up and spot-up possessions, to go with effective work cutting and navigating direct handoff plays and as the roll man in actions with Curry.
The defensive dynamism didn't exactly surface for Wiseman last night, as he didn't record a block, but two steals and efficient scoring and rebounding rates proved impressive, given his lack of action during the past year. For some context, Wiseman posted the second-highest fantasy tally among centers on DraftKings last night with 30.5 points on that platform, trailing only the Lakers' Montrezl Harrell.
The gifted rookie center is still a free agent in roughly a third of ESPN leagues as of Wednesday morning and could emerge as a difference-maker in field goal percentage and blocks as the season, and his game, matures.
Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets: 20 points (6-17 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 TO
The Nets pushed the tempo and scored at ease against the Warriors last night, resulting in a rapid pace of 112 (possessions per 48 minutes), a clip befitting of a coaching staff most famous for their time with the "seven seconds or less" Suns. For reference, the Bucks led the league last season with 105.1 possessions per 48 minutes. The Nets used their entire roster in the win; per Elias, Brooklyn became the first team in NBA history to play 15 different players in a single game and became the second team in NBA history with 14 different scorers in a single game (New Orleans Jazz, Nov. 1974). While a blowout win will open the rotation for any team, it appears Brooklyn could run an atypically deep rotation in order to preserve their top veteran talents.
Speaking of those veteran stars, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant both eclipsed the 20-point mark for Brooklyn. Irving scored a game-high 26 points in 25:18 minutes played, with 24 points in the first half, marking his fourth-fewest minutes in a 25-point game in his NBA career (out of 204 career 25-point games). Durant scored 10 of his 22 points within the game's first five minutes, tied for his most points in the first five minutes of a game in his career (regular season or playoffs). For first-year head coach Steve Nash, the 26-point win marked the third-largest in a head coach's debut in NBA history, according to Elias.
LeVert thrived in a heavy-usage role off the pine for the Nets, while his peer Spencer Dinwiddie posted a quiet game. Working from the bench could prove quite rewarding for LeVert, given how empowered he was to consume possessions last night.
The Clippers never trailed in a seven-point win over the Lakers. It marked just the second time a LeBron James team failed to lead in its opening game. George scored 26 points in the second half, while Kawhi Leonard added 26 for the game, becoming the third duo in team history to score 25 points each in a season opener. George shot 72% from the field, becoming the first player to score at least 30 points while shooting 70% or better from the field in a season opener since Blake Griffin also did it for the Clippers in 2015. There is a really good chance that George outplays his average draft position this season, as his playoff woes seem to have influenced his value entering the season.
Injuries of note
The Cavs' Kevin Love turned in one of the healthiest seasons of his career in 2019-20, missing just nine games, but he will miss the team's opener this year due to a calf strain that has bothered him throughout the preseason. Second-year wing Kevin Porter Jr. is also sidelined tonight for personal reasons, suggesting that veteran forward Larry Nance Jr. and rookie wing Isaac Okoro should see an uptick in opportunities tonight against Charlotte.
The Knicks' Austin Rivers is sidelined with a groin injury, and while this isn't such a significant missing piece, it does spell a big workload for Alec Burks, if you are looking for a cheap DFS or streaming candidate.
Atlanta's Clint Capela is listed as doubtful with an Achilles ailment, while rookie Onyeka Okongwu is out with foot inflammation, which signals plenty of run for John Collins at center and room for Danilo Gallinari to soak up minutes as the team's stretch-4.
Analytics advantage for Wednesday
Stacking from either Dallas or Phoenix tonight could prove rewarding for those playing this robust 13-game DFS schedule, as the game claims a slate-high opening point total of 237, a full 11% higher than the night's lowest total between the Knicks and Pacers (213.5). More points are, like, fun for fantasy purposes. Some blend of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and even and affordable Mikal Bridges, could prove rewarding, while paying up for Luka Doncic complemented by affordable options such as Josh Richardson and Maxi Kleber is another savvy path to production.
Another fantasy-friendly NBA roster to consider for both daily competition and in traditional redraft leagues is the Memphis Grizzlies, as they were sixth in pace last season and face a San Antonio team that ranked 24th last season in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions). Ja Morant is a nice building block, while Brandon Clarke and even Dillon Brooks -- who is rostered in just 34.6% of ESPN leagues -- could enjoy facing a Spurs team relatively light on defense beyond Dejounte Murray.
Top players to watch on Wednesday
The 76ers host the Wizards tonight in a matchup of teams that experienced a great deal of change in the offseason. The 76ers posted the most dominant net rating of all high-minute starting lineups back in 2017-18, when the team placed floor-spacing shooters around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, an archetype Daryl Morey and Doc Rivers have revived heading into the season. Watching how this duo deals with this pivot to a more open floor will prove compelling.
Washington notably acquired Russell Westbrook in exchange for former face of the franchise John Wall. Westbrook is arguably the most compelling player to watch tonight, given he's again the main distributor of an NBA offense after sharing such duties with James Harden last season. Leading the league in usage this season, even with Bradley Beal in place, is well within the range of outcomes for Westbrook.